Raj Krishnan has an excellent post at the Google Webmaster Central Blog which addresses one of the oldest foundations of search engine optimization, Meta tags. Raj discusses the Meta Description tag and how one can perform a “Meta Description Makeover” in order to assure a more friendly snippet.
Snippets are the descriptions which Google serves under the Title link of a search engine result. In some instances, horrible Meta Descriptions can lead to lower click thru of an organic listing, because the copy is not user friendly.
Think of this in the same spectrum of paid search copy, sometimes the better copy can influence the higher click thru percentage… even if that listing is not always ranked first.
Why does Google care about meta descriptions?
We want snippets to accurately represent the web result. We frequently prefer to display meta descriptions of pages (when available) because it gives users a clear idea of the URL’s content. This directs them to good results faster and reduces the click-and-backtrack behavior that frustrates visitors and inflates web traffic metrics. Keep in mind that meta descriptions comprised of long strings of keywords don’t achieve this goal and are less likely to be displayed in place of a regular, non-meta description, snippet. And it’s worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won’t affect your ranking within search results.
Tips for better Meta Descriptions:
- Create descriptions that accurately describe each specific page.
- Using identical or similar descriptions on every page of a site isn’t very helpful when individual pages appear in the web results.
- The meta description doesn’t just have to be in sentence format; it’s also a great place to include structured data about the page.
- Good descriptions are human-readable and diverse.
- Make sure your descriptions are… descriptive.
I’d like to add that if you run a blog, make sure that each blog post has its own Meta Description. If your blog uses the first 25 words or so of your blog post for its Description, keep this in mind while writing … with keywords and conversion oriented copy.